Despite delays that have stalled his sophomore restaurant build-out, Hometown Bar-B-Que chef owner Billy Durney is back on track to open his second Red Hook restaurant Hometown Fried Chicken as soon as September.
In April, the buildout at 329 Van Brunt Street was derailed when a stop work order had been placed on the property for life when the expeditor of his project Scott Schnall — the guy who helps restaurants land permits and navigate the city’s bureaucracy — was banned from working in the city. After many audits, the Department of Buildings said “it could no longer rely on [Schnall] to submit honest applications or documents.”
Schnall has since filed a lawsuit and the stop work order has been lifted. “I think I worked it out that I can be in the same spot,” says Durney of the Van Brunt building.
Back in April, he was so frustrated by the turn of events he considered looking for a new location. The process “has been the most intense experience” of his life, he says. “It seems they continually make it harder to build and operate here in NY,” says Durney. “I’ve been trying to build this 35-seat, 900 square-foot fried chicken joint for 16 months.” Durney signed a lease back in January 2016 on the building that’s more than 100 years old that later revealed structural problems.
Durney quickly rose to barbecue fame after he opened Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook in 2013, in part because he’s obsessed with details when it comes to barbecue and now fried chicken. When he started developing fried chicken recipes for the new restaurant nearly two years ago, he researched by testing everything from the oil to frying methods.
Meanwhile, Schnall’s lawsuit claims the DOB is retaliating for his telling the New York Times it’s “screwed up” back in 2014. Schnall, who’s been in the business for around 30 years, had clients and friends raise money through a GoFundMe campaign that has stalled at just over $26,000 with a $250,000 goal.
Stay tuned for more.